By Suzanne Ruta
September 06, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Death of Friends

B+
type
  • Book

Michael Nava is a native Californian, a Latino, a graduate of Stanford, a lawyer, and gay. Henry Rios, the hero of his five mystery novels (The Hidden Law, How Town) has the same attributes. In The Death of Friends, he pursues a killer through gay Los Angeles, rubbing elbows (and sometimes more) with everyone from closeted city officials to hapless street hustlers. A major earthquake, the AIDS epidemic, the ”slow-motion civil war” between the city’s rich and poor, the Simpson murder case, and the porn film industry all play a part. Even in Los Angeles, ”Armageddon-by-the-Pacific,” this could be overkill. But with lawyerlike clarity, Nava extracts a quietly convincing tale from this crisis overload. Like Raymond Chandler, he uncovers trickle-down corruption in high places. Like Simenon, he tracks crime to its intimate moral source in familiar human weaknesses, gradually implicating murderer, victim, sleuth, and maybe even the reader. B+

The Death of Friends

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